First it was the Rolling Stones, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra. Now Elton John has lent his image to market a credit card.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation has signed a deal with MBNA Corp., Wilmington, Del., to issue affinity Visa cards.

MBNA, the nation's second-largest credit card issuer and the leader in developing affinity programs, said it would make a contribution to the foundation for each account opened and for subsequent card usage.

An MBNA spokesman said the Elton John program is consistent with the company's strategy of marketing to people with strong common interests.

"Elton John has millions of extremely loyal fans who love his music and support him in his charity efforts," said MBNA regional executive vice president Todd Weaver in a press release.

Cardholders have a choice of three images - two of the musician and one bearing a large, fuchsia "a" - the foundation's symbol.

To entice new cardholders, MBNA is offering the no-fee card at a 5.9% rate for five months. The rate is good for balance transfers and cash advances. It will jump to prime plus 8.9%, currently 17.15%, after the introductory period.

A limited-edition Elton John CD will be given to all new customers who use their cards for the first time. The compact disc features 12 of Mr. John's biggest hits.

Active cardholders will get the AIDS foundation's newsletter.

In the four years since the singer created the foundation, a spokesman said, it has committed more than $6 million in better than 400 grants for North America in conjunction with the National AIDS Fund in Washington.

The grants support AIDS services ranging from food banks to hospices.

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